A series of quakes that rattled Batangas, Laguna, Cavite, Mindoro, Metro Manila and other areas the past few days has heightened speculations that the Big One, a projected 7.2 magnitude earthquake on the West Valley Fault that could be destructive for Metro Manila, maybe in the offing. While the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has been warning that this could happen in the lifetime of many people, nothing has been invented so far to predict exactly when an earthquake could happen. As such, Phivolcs and other government authorities could only issue warning and call for caution and make the necessary preparation possible to cushion the effect of a big temblor.
Leaders of the Philippine Congress thus are calling for people, especially the students, to be prepared and trained for such disasters through the Disaster Risk Reduction, Management and Education programs in schools, colleges and universities. “In the wake of strong typhoons that hit the country, as well as the threat of other exposures such as the impending Big One that will lay waste in Metro Manila and the neighboring provinces, it is imperative that we educate our students with the proper decorum on the preparation and response to these kinds of disasters,” according to Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe as he filed House Bill 805 or the “Act Mandating All Schools and Universities to Establish an Area-Specific Disaster Risk Reduction Management and Education Program in their Respective Jurisdictions.” Sens. Loren Legarda and Juan Miguel Zubiri are supporting the measure in the Senate.
If the bill is enacted into law, schools and universities would be required to educate the students, parents, staff, and teachers on all possible vulnerabilities and disasters their areas are prone to. Schools will also be required to craft a comprehensive disaster preparedness and emergency plan. The current law already mandates the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) to incorporate a disaster risk reduction and management education in the curricula of secondary and tertiary education. But under the bill, the same agencies would also be directed to conduct risk assessment tools for the identification of capacities, vulnerabilities, and hazards present in the schools.
Preparing for the Big One, natural calamities and disasters should be the main concern not just of pupils and students and their teachers but of everyone as these phenomenon hit people unexpectedly just like the thief in the night. And preparations and vigilance should be everybody’s concern all the time, any time.